liturgy: not always what we want

Paul Fromberg, of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, wrote about the experience of worshipping rather than presiding while on sabbatical. He said:

The thing about worship and prayer is that it never gets delivered in a neat package. It is always a mix of what you want and what you don’t want.

That caught my attention. I love where I am at St. John’s. I miss the pipe organ, but we have a marvelous pianist. I value having confession most every week, something that I missed in my Lutheran sojourn. I don’t particularly get a kick out of saying the Nicene Creed every week, but that’s the price of admission for participating in Episcopal worship.

The Lutherans changed the color for Advent from purple to blue with the publication of their 1978 hymnal in order to present more of an idea of expectation rather than penitence. I like that. For us Episcopalians it is still a purple season of penitence, and at St. John’s we do a somber, almost funereal, if you will, version of the Kyrie. That is fine in my mind for Lent, not so much so for Advent. But I don’t put the liturgy together, and the color of Advent in the Episcopal church is indeed purple.

But, as Paul writes, it’s not about consumer choice:

Liturgy is the exact opposite of consumer choice; what you get is what there is, not always your preference. In that sound of liturgy, prayer is made. It makes itself known to everyone who stops to listen. Grace abounds in everything.

Thank you for that, Paul.

One Comment on “liturgy: not always what we want”

  1. Linda Taylor says:

    The color is purple, but it’s royal purple, with gold trimmings, in honor of the king who is coming. It can also be Sarum blue, a rich dark, brighter-than-navy blue. (Some say this blue is an invention of the Almy folks who would like to sell a few more vestment sets.) It’s not necessarily penitential, depending on one’s theology. Either way, grace abounds. Indeed.

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